The big plastic says we need plastic films to make fresh produce last longer. It seems a bit of a stretch: after all, retailers can just buy less, just as much as they can sell. However, the demand is not totally predictable. Wrapped fruits and vegetables can theoretically "outlast" such dips in demand and have a better chance to find their buyer. However, I don't see any reason for retailers not to offer some huge discounts on overordered produce or just give it away to poor people. It may be not as good for their bottom lines, but it seems pretty sustainable. Can we say goodbye to plastic film without creating massive amounts of additional food waste?

  • While this doesn't answer the question, I should note that there are two ways to make plastics from renewable sources: (1) create hydrogen, combine it with carbon dioxide to form methane, create longer-chain hydrocarbons from that; (2) make petrochemicals from trees. We can build enough renewable electricity for (1) to make all the plastics the human race will ever need, and similarly we have enough trees for (2) to make all the plastics the human race will ever need.
    – juhist
    Jun 30, 2023 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


The short answer is yes. Plastic film has been used in developed countries since the 1980s, maybe mid 1970s. There was a time when plastic film didn't exist.

Plastic film is convenient, it's why we use it. If we stopped using it, life will go on. We managed without before the 1980s. The collective "we" will have to change our behavior, which some people will resist.

Depending on the application, sometimes paper or waxed paper can be used to seal certain types of food containers. Some innovation and research and development into alternatives may be required.

Food and beverage cans used to be lined with tin to prevent food spoilage from rusting steel. Now all cans, whether they are made from steel or aluminium are lined with plastic.

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